In our digital age, content is flowing nonstop. For large companies with many departments and locations, controlling the flow of content and maintaining consistent branding can be a nightmare.
Your company’s brand refers to more than just your logo. A brand includes the logo, yes, but also colors, fonts, images, and messaging of the company. In fact, the most successful brands incorporate the company’s values and sense of style to everything the brand produces.
Branding is, essentially, a promise. When we buy a cup of Starbucks coffee, or an Apple product, or a Nike athletic shoe, we have certain expectations because of the brand. And whether you’re a big brand or a smaller one, brand consistency is critical to help distinguish you from your competition and build trust among your customers.
Every time a customer or potential customer interacts with your brand, they should understand more about the promise your company is making — and that leads them to understand what to expect when they work with you.
For most companies, it’s relatively easy to create brand consistency in a marketing campaign or email campaign designed and produced by the marketing team — but how do you ensure that the same consistency is applied to sales materials?
How do you ensure that a distributed sales team is delivering a consistent brand message in every presentation, every time?
If your company is like many, there’s probably a bit of tension between the marketing department and the sales department.
The marketing department spends its life creating consistent brand assets, content, and messaging for the sales team to use. But many sales teams believe this message needs to be tweaked when it’s delivered in the “real world.”
In fact, each individual salesperson may interpret and put their own individual spin on the message. That also means they may be “tweaking” other aspects of the materials the marketing department creates — and because they aren’t designers and writers deeply focused on consistency in branding, they may change up everything from the font to the colors to the carefully constructed messaging of the brand.
So who is right? The marketing department that wants to demand consistency? Or the sales team that wants to make changes based on real world feedback?
The importance of brand consistency in sales presentations
In essence, they’re both right — to a degree.
Sales teams need to be able to customize their message to suit different potential clients, different situations, different needs.
But the marketing department is also right when they go on about the need for a cohesive, consistent brand experience. Think of it this way: if one sales team goes “rogue” and misrepresents the brand, every potential customer or consumer who sees that message will be confused and get mixed representations of the company. If multiple sales teams are creating multiple different versions of the message, things start to break down in a way that almost certainly costs sales.
That’s because brand consistency conveys certain subliminal messages to your clients and potential customers:
- Consistent branding sends a clear message.
Your brand sets the tone for a customer’s first impression of your business. But if that tone is inconsistent, your customer’s impression can be muddled, unreasonable or inaccurate expectations can be set, and the potential customer may feel uncertain. Generally not the message you want to send.
- Consistent branding builds trust.
As consumers, we feel confident when our expectations are met. When we see consistent branding, we can imagine what it was like to do business with that brand in the past, and how it will be in the future, and this builds confidence and trust. It’s the reason (like it or not!) people will visit a Starbucks or McDonald's even when they’re traveling the world — they know what to expect.
- Consistent branding feels dependable.
You (probably) wouldn’t want your sales team to show up to a prospective client’s office in a suit for one meeting and a ratty t-shirt and smelly sandals for the next because it wouldn’t send a good message. Likewise if half your team’s presentation materials are in different fonts, with pixelated logos and the wrong brand colors, that, too, sends a message. Consistent branding presents a unified vision and version of your business that customers can rely on.
A sales team that doesn’t pay attention to brand consistency may be diminishing their effectiveness and decreasing conversion rates before they ever open their mouths to deliver a presentation — and no sales person I know wants that.
Calm the inner-office tensions with easy brand consistency
The key to calming any inter-departmental branding wars and getting sales team buy-in on establishing brand consistency is to provide an easy way for sales teams to access branded sales assets no matter where they are or how they might want to “tweak” their message.
In most cases, it’s not that the sales teams or other departments “on the ground” don’t want their presentations to have brand consistency; it’s that they don’t understand the importance or have the resources to easily maintain it.
We think there are two possible solutions:
1. If it’s necessary that your field sales team should be able to create or edit customer presentations themselves, then supply them with a brand style guide that everyone can access, and make it easy to distribute, update, find, and use.
A basic style guide should include:
- Overall brand story — this includes your company mission, values, vision, ideal audience, and personality.
- Logo guide — this section should include how your logo should look in a variety of situations. Include considerations like:
- Size: minimums, maximums, and proper proportions
- Space: how much white space should be included around the logo
- Colors: variations (reverse, color, black and white) and when to use them
- Don’ts: anything people should avoid
- Brand colors — include PANTONE names and numbers, CMYK for print, and RGB and HEX codes for digital
- Fonts and typography — be clear about when each font is used and include information about spacing and justification
- Image guidelines — show examples, best practices, and even a mood board for choosing images
- Voice — share words and phrases the brand does use and those you don’t use. Give best practices and even which grammar rules you refer to.
Check out this resource from 99Designs for a more in-depth look at creating a brand style guide.
2. A more advanced option is to create a library of approved slides that the sales team can pick from and use in their sales meetings — no editing required.
Start with a collection of slides for each product that you sell, add in other resources that are typically used in sales meetings — demo or profile videos, client testimonials, data sheets, spec sheets etc. — and let your sales team dip into the files that they need for each meeting so they don’t have to reinvent the wheel (or the brand) every time.
Odds are the sales team will actually prefer not having to rely on their graphic design “skills” to create unique sales presentations every time.
Once you have your brand style guide or library of approved materials created, you’ll need an easy way to distribute, update, and maintain it.
Showcase is a perfect solution for distributing materials like this to different teams because it can handle nearly any file type — so you can send everything from a logo in multiple sizes and resolutions to a product demonstration video.
Your marketing team can also easily update and maintain the materials in one centralized place for teams across the company to access.
Creating and sharing the right content, visuals, and design elements can promote consistency and help every team member understand why brand consistency matters.
And if that kind of consistency could actually improve how your brand is perceived, and therefore improve sales conversions, imagine what that could mean for your bottom line.
Why not give Showcase a test drive with a free trial and see how simple it can be to help ensure brand consistency for your sales presentations? Click here to get started.